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The hand of Teresa

Yesterday I learned that the Carmelite convent in Ronda in Southern Spain is likely to close down soon. They are down to four Sisters. They are appealing for people to help them keep their convent open because it is a historic one. It has the extraordinary distinction of possessing the hand of Teresa of Avila, which was cut off from her body after death. Such was the desire for relics in her day that taking body parts from a deceased holy person was not an uncommon practice. The brother of St John of the Cross did this with John's body after death. Many people scoff at the veneration of relics, forgetting that 'relics' of famous people are immensely valued today. Anything connected with a celebrity present or past is a source of delight to the possessor and of course a source of money if sold - sometimes a very great deal of money. We may not literally cut off body parts when celebrities die (thankfully), but the cult of relics is as live and well as ever.

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